New Deceuninck-QuickStep signing Ian Garrison – the reigning US time trial champion – has talked of his frustration at having had his first WorldTour season cut short due to the coronavirus crisis, but admits that the pandemic is "a challenge that the whole world has to overcome", and is training hard for when he and his colleagues can race again.
Writing in a blog on his team's website this week, 21-year-old Garrison said that he was now back home in the US, in Georgia, but that he had been worried at one point about being able to get a flight from a team training camp in Europe.
"I was at our Greek training camp when things started to develop in the US, and they were talking about closing the airports and not letting people in or out," wrote Garrison. "Alvaro [Hodeg, his Colombian teammate] and I were the two guys from the Americas at the camp and we didn't want to get stuck in Europe as we saw things were getting worse.
"We waited a little bit and saw that more and more flights were getting cancelled, and we made the call with the team that we needed to go back, and a day later I went from Athens to Heathrow and then to Atlanta," he explained. "Now that I'm home, I'm having some fairly normal days, doing the rides and workouts that are part of my programme."
Garrison said that the restrictions where he lives aren't as bad as some of the measures put in place in parts of Europe that are worst-affected by the virus, and that he's still able to train outdoors.
"The roads are really quiet, although people are out walking in the nice weather we're having, but the shops are closed and it is quieter," he wrote.
"It's quite strange to work without a goal in mind, because we just don't know when racing will begin again, or what our programme will be," added Garrison. "I am just grateful that I can enjoy being out on the bike, as I am aware that some people don't even have that and are stuck inside.
"It is definitely a shift in mindset, but I have plenty to be grateful for. I can work without specific targets – when I am racing, I like to have certain goals but I also really like riding my bike – so I don't need a reason to ride or train. I am able to switch my brain and just enjoy it."
Garrison was able to enjoy racing at February's Tour de la Provence – where he finished third on the final stage – followed by the Ardèche Classic at the end of the month, and the Drôme Classic and GP Monseré at the start of March.
"I have really enjoyed it so far, and I learned a lot from each race," Garrison said. "The first time I arrived at the race and went on the team bus, I was nervous and I just tried to get all of the details right and do my job to the best of my ability. As far as the racing went, it wasn't too different, but part of it was not knowing what to expect and seeing how things work, but all of racing boils down to going on your bike and racing.
"The future is hard to predict right now, as we don't know when racing will begin again," he said. "It is a little frustrating, having just got started. But stuff happens and this is much bigger than us or just me. It is very different from saying that I have a knee problem or something; we are all in this together and it is something that none of us have ever experienced before, and a challenge that the whole world has to overcome.
"It is bigger than all of us, and it's kind of stupid to say that I'm frustrated, but I'm looking forward to joining my teammates and racing again, whenever that will be."
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